A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Umar Tahir, on Monday contradicted himself in the current trial of a former Minister in former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, Taminu Turaki.
This occurred when Tahir, who was a Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Islamic Affairs in the government, was being cross-examined by counsel to Turaki, Joe Gadzama (SAN), before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Turaki, the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs between 2013 and 2015, is facing a money laundering charges involving about N854 million.
He also served as the supervising Minister of Labour from 2014 to 2015 in President Jonathan-led administration.
During yesterday’s cross-examination, Tahir admitted that N150 million was transferred to him in tranches while the remaining N50 million was handed to him by Tukari’s aide.
When Gadzama asked Tahir how much he had paid out of the N67 million the EFCC asked him to refund from the N200 million, the witness said the anti-graft agency only asked him to refund N20 million.
“How much have you refunded so far?” he asked.
“I have refunded about N1.7 million,” he responded.
But Gadzama disagreed with him, saying from the documented evidence before the court, he had, at three different occasions, paid about N3 million to the EFCC, of which Tahir did not object to.
Asking further, Gadzama said: “I put it to you that the entire money, which is N404 million, was released for the project.”
“I am not aware that the total money was N404 million,” Tahir responded.
The lawyer asked him what step he took when he saw that N200 million was released to him from the N359 million.
Tahir refused to give a direct answer, insisting that he had to offer an explanation.
“I seek the protection of my lord to offer an explanation,” he said.
“No, this is simple question. You told the court that N359 million was approved to you and you got N200 million. What did you do to get the balance?” the lawyer asked again.
Tahir said: “I asked the minister and he said the release was in tranches and I have no reason to doubt him.”
Justice Ekwo cautioned Tahir when the cross-examination session turned into a heated argument.
“Do you want me to form an opinion about you that you are not cooperating with the evidence?
“Your language is very bad. You need to know you are before the court,” the judge queried.
Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter till September 22 for continuation of cross-examination and trial.